February ’21 Wrap Up: BHM Edition

I can’t believe February is already here and gone! This was an extremely busy month for me but I still managed to get in A LOT of great books! Similar to what I did back in October (created a Spooky TBR, if you’re interested the post can be found here), I challenged myself to assemble an entire TBR that was written by POC authors and had POC main characters. This was one of the best and most impactful reading experiences I have ever had. I deviated a little from the list of books I originally decided on, but that was a strategic shift about halfway through the month. Let’s dive into the books and discuss them a little further!

I got off on a somewhat delayed start because I wasn’t finished with my then current read (The Midnight Library) on February 1st. I’ve owned The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas for a couple of years now and thought now was the perfect time to finally read it. The Hate U Give was emotional, moving, insightful and heartbreaking all at the same time. The story focuses Starr, our main character, witnessing a police officer wrongly shooting (and killing) her unarmed black friend during a traffic stop. The plot then grows from there, discussing racial issues, the court hearing and family dynamics. I don’t typically read contemporary books or a lot of non-fiction. While The Hate U Give is a fictional story, unfortunately, it could easily be based on true events. While this was a difficult book to read, I am grateful for the experience and the additional perspective it provided.

Next up, I read The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin. This was an amazing, engrossing, WEIRD book and I loved every minute of it. The premise was simple: When cities grow large enough, they are “born” and individuals take on the roles of “avatars” for each of the relevant boroughs. Everything about this story was unique and creative – I’ve never read anything like this before. The novel takes place in New York City at the cusp of its birth. Each of its five boroughs (Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island) are awoken in a person from each area. Jemisin does an amazing job with the characterization for each person. They all have a distinct voice and I never found myself accidentally mixing up two characters. While this is an urban fantasy book, there were several racial issues incorporated into the story. I don’t want to go too much more into the plot because part of the fun are the surprises as you get further into the book! If this sound at all interesting, I’d encourage you to give it a try!

At this point, I decided to pivot a bit. My next two books I had queued up were either Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi or A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne Brown. I wanted to pick up another contemporary book that dealt with more current day issues. For that reason, I opted for Dear Martin by Nic Stone. Dear Martin falls into a similar vein to The Hate U Give. It follows the main character, Justyce McAllister. Justyce goes to a primarily white school and within the first few pages is wrongly arrested by police. From that moment on, he begins writing letter to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Justyce discusses various race issues and other struggles he experiences throughout the novel (and there are quite a few – things really escalate later in the book). I found the letters to be such a noteworthy addition, that really added depth to this novel. Similar to The Hate U Give, Dear Martin is a fictional story that could easily be non-fiction. Unfortunately, the events in this book are a little too common in today’s world. My only problem with this story was that it felt slightly rushed. There were so many relationships and concepts that I would’ve loved to have seen fleshed out a little more. This also wasn’t a very long book, coming in at around 225 pages, so there was definitely room for this story to grow.

This was not an easy reading month for me but these books are gave me an incredible amount of perspective. The stories were emotional, engaging, poignant and raw. While I’m sure some of the elements included in each of these book was sensationalized, they still addressed many important issues facing the African American communities head-on. I’m thankful that I decided to take on this reading challenge and learned so much from this experience. If you’re reading this post, I’d like to challenge you to pick up one of the books I mentioned in this post (especially The Hate U Give or Dear Martin). If you have a questions about any of these novels, feel free to leave a comment. I’ll do my best to answer and love chatting with you all about books.

Until Next Time,
Mr Geek

February ’21 Black History Month TBR

I’ve always loved the idea of a “themed” reading list but I never really committed to trying it. Back in October of last year I decided to fully embrace “Spooky SZN” and read nothing but horror books to get me in the mood for Halloween. It was a great experience – I got into a nice groove, whipped through some excellent reads and really enjoyed it.

I decided to give this reading theme a try for Black History Month (#BHM). Last year, during all of the Black Lives Matter protests, a lot of bloggers / BookTubers were encouraging the reading community to read books by people of color. For me, race and gender are not two traits I typically think about when selecting a book. Basically, if the ploy sounds good, I add it to my TBR. I decided to make my entire February TBR decided to authors of color and I have assembled a GREAT list of books! If you’re not sure what to read next, hopefully my selections will inspire you! Now, let’s get onto the books!

Kicking off the month, I’ll be reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I feel like this book was EVERYWHERE a few years when it was first released (and they made it into a movie, which I picked up over the Holidays to watch after I finish the book). The plot focuses on a young girl (Starr Carter) who witnesses her best friend get shot and killed at the hands of a police officer. The story makes national headlines and things begin to spiral from there. I’ve heard nothing by praise for this novel and I’m hoping it’s a strong start to the month.

Next up, I’ll be reading The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin. The plot of this one is pretty vague but essentially cities are “born.” Whenever this process happens, individuals within the city come to life. The main focus here is New York City and as it’s born, each of its boroughs comes to life and is characterized by a certain person. I’ve heard this is an extremely unique and engaging read. This will also be my first book by N. K. Jemisin. I’ve also heard great things about how other series and writing style, I think she has potential to become one of my new favorite authors.

After that, I’ll be picking up A Song Of Wraiths & Ruin by Roseanne Brown. This was another really popular book earlier this. I’ve seen it features on several YouTube channels and all over Twitter. I believe this also has multiple POVs, which is one of my favorite writing styles (when done right). From what I’ve heard so far, the plot focuses on a princess (Karina) trying to resurrect her mother who was recently assassinated and an assassin (Malik) who’s trying to kill Karina. I believe this also includes some sort of competition (which I am a sucker for).

Rounding out the month will be Children of Blood & Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. This is the first book in the Legacy of Orisha trilogy. It follows our main character Zelie, who lives in a world that no longer has magic. It has been trampled out by their ruthless King. When Zelie is given the chance to bring back magic and strike down the monarch, she must decide what her future holds.

This is a father aggressive TBR but I’m feeling good about all of these books! Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned? What did you think? Be sure to follow me here or on Twitter (@ItsMrGeekToYou) for updates on my reading journey!

Until Next Time,
Mr Geek